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Hi, you're in the Archives, September 2013 - Part 2

September 2013 - part 1 <--- September 2013 - part 2 ---> October 2013 part 1


September 30, 2013


Caperdonich 1977 Cadenhead vs. Caperdonich 1977 Cadenhead

1977 is not 1972, said Mr de Lapalice, but that does not mean these babies can't be excellent. They're probably from the same batch of casks, so this should be interesting...


Caperdonich 22 yo 1977/2000 (46%, Cadenhead, Original Collection, 348 bottles) Four stars Sorry, no picture of this one, I've put a portrait of WF's 16yo official mouser instead. Colour: dark amber. Nose: it's a mossy kind of sherry, with mushrooms, old cellar, saltpetre and only then figs, dates and raisins. A little bacon too, pipe tobacco, Mexican chocolate sauce... It's very nice but maybe it's wee notch dirty, in a way. Pine needles and earth. Mouth: it's chocolate sauce indeed! Ganache and pepper, cloves, something slightly metallic this time, maybe a notch cardboardy, touches of absinth, maybe... And then we have more prunes. Big, juicy prunes from Gers! That actually gives this baby an Armagnacy side. A roughish Armagnac. Finish: quite long and slightly eau-de-vie-ish. That's right, white Armagnac (folle blanche). Ha! Comments: much too my liking, maybe just a little rough. And too French. I'm joking. SGP:651 - 85 points.

Caperdonich 35 yo 1977/2013 (50.2%, Cadenhead, small batch, sherry butt, 384 bottles)

Caperdonich 35 yo 1977/2013 (50.2%, Cadenhead, small batch, sherry butt, 384 bottles) Four stars Colour: coffee. Nose: oh yes this is probably a sister cask, it's just that it spent thirteen extra-years in sherry and so became flintier and more on coffee and chocolate. Other than that the very same notes of pipe tobacco and dried fruits are playing first fiddles. The tobacco's actually becoming very strong, while a few mentholated extractive notes emerge. With water: becomes gamy (pheasant, haha), more vinous for sure, with also quite a lot of balsamic vinegar and damp earth. Mouth (neat): it's almost ultra-fortified jam! Cherries, raspberries, oranges, then the menthol starts to become heavier and heavier without becoming invading. Well, you have to like menthol. Hard liquorice (we call that Zan over here). With water: strong liquid honey. Or imagine a cocktail made out of chestnut honey, slivovitz, crème de menthe and chocolate. Not bad! Finish: long but a little drying now. Cinnamon, grape skins, rocket salad, cocoa. Comments: heavy sherry! A bit unlikely at times but it's big bold whisky. Keeping it for 35 extra years in glass/bottle should make it rounder and smoother ;-). SGP:661 - 87 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Caperdonich I've tasted so far



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: the Roscoe Mitchell Creative Orchestra. Track: Line Fine Lyon Seven. Please buy Roscoe Mitchell's music... (thanks Dave)

September 27, 2013


Ardbegging again

I'm afraid this will be a rather dishonest session, as we'll use the excuse of a recent batch of Uigeadail to do a 'freewheeling' Ardbeg session, with a small bunch of old ones that we haven't carefully tasted yet. Let's see how far we'll manage to go...

Ardbeg 'Uigeadail' (54.2%, OB, +/-2013)

Ardbeg 'Uigeadail' (54.2%, OB, +/-2013) Five stars No I haven't got any laser codes or whatnot, but this one is recent for sure. The latest version I've tried was bottled circa 2010 and I loved it (WF 92). Colour: gold. Nose: it's not complicated, and I guess there's less super-old Ardbeg than in earlier batches anyway, but balance was found, with some straight smoke (exhaust) and then a combo of vanilla fudge, custard and lemon curd. A little wet paint as well, some leather and just a little tobacco. Maybe it's narrower than the first Uigeadails but so far, so good. And I enjoy these black olives that come out after ten minutes. With water: swims perfectly. Putty, almonds, seashells... Mouth (neat): it's perfect. Simple, but perfect. Impressive mouth feel. Lemon zests, bitter herbs, tar, brine and liquorice. It's certainly less rich and opulent than the first Uigeadails from ten years ago, but I'm not sure it's lost anything. I enjoy this more chiselled style. With water: smoother, with some orange blossom honey, but the tarry and liquoricy side remains big. Also kumquats and bergamots. Finish: long, with even more tar and smoke. Comments: by far my favourite current/recent official Ardbeg. I think the styles change a bit, but quality remains evenly high, if I may say so. SGP:458 - 92 points.

And now, let's unleash the old beasts!

Ardbeg 1979 (43%, Nisshoku Osaka, Japan, 490ml, +/-1995?)

Ardbeg 1979 (43%, Nisshoku Osaka, Japan, 490ml, +/-1995?) Five stars A very rare old bottling for a Japanese general store, unearthed by the one and only Mr Bert Vuik, the best, the most elegant and the most knowledgeable of friends. What's more, 1979 is a very rare vintage. Colour: gold. Nose: I know this isn't very PC, but this is an ode to lower strengths. In other words, if the spirit's big, it sometimes needs no high strength. Indeed, this is incredibly complex and yet it's very focussed and, if I may, 'accurate and exact'. The peat isn't immense (as was the case with most Ardbegs from the late 1970s) but this combination of fresh almonds, cider apples, waxed papers, leather cream, sea water and old Pu-erh tea is absolutely amazing. A Montrachet from the best (old) vintages. Mouth: incredible. Feels like 50% vol., with a very rare and unusual citrusy profile. I'd say pink grapefruits and citrons, plus some smoked salmon, other smoked fish, some kind of very old tar or pitch (long forgotten in grandpa's garage), some papers again (including a lot of ink), then something more medicinal with embrocations and camphor, apple peelings, walnuts... Of well oh well of well...  It's becoming drier over time, but it remains magnificent. Can you drink engine oil? Finish: amazingly long considering the strength, very phenolic and medicinal. Sap. Comments: yeah, old Ardbeg... What can we say? It's not whisky, it's a journey. Sadly, a journey through time. SGP:367 - 94 points.

Slim Cowell’s Personal Selection VII Islay 1980/1993 (60%, Slim Cowell)

Slim Cowell’s Personal Selection VII Islay 1980/1993 (60%, Slim Cowell) Five stars Google Slim Cowell, he used to be the man. 1980s are as rare as 1979s at Ardbeg. In fact the label does not mention Ardbeg but it's most probably Ardbeg, possibly a lightly peated one in the 'Kildalton' style. Let's see... Colour: gold. Nose: so yeah, Ardbeg. I wouldn't say it's lightly peated - at all - but what's sure is that it's a bit mono-dimensional, almost all on straight smoke at first nosing. Other than that, there's some antiseptic and touches of pears, which is unusual. A bit burnt as well (new make) but all that may come from the very high strength. With water: akin to the 1979 but the fruitiness remained there. Can you smoke pears? Or bandage pink grapefruits? Different, but very lovely, with something curiously Bowmore-ish now. Also more earth and roots. Mouth (neat): high impact, strangely bubblegummy Ardbeg. Smoke and jellybeans, a funny compo. Yet the mouth feel is perfect - as the jellybeans are lemon-flavoured. Also raisins and kumquats coming out, this must have been a sherry hogshead. Huge stuff. With water: becomes very dry and ashy, but some additional fruits are popping out. Pomegranates? It is, in fact, superb whisky. Finish: very long, on more smoked fruits and even some honey. The aftertaste is more coastal, around seashells, but after the aftertaste it becomes very ashy, just like if you had smoked a double-corona. Comments: a different Ardbeg. The smokiness is recognisable while the fruitiness isn't quite. Very interesting - whisky historians would love this funny beast. SGP:546 - 91 points.

I have the impression that we won't go very far today, these Ardbegs are fab but they can be a little tiring... But let's have one more, like, a 1974?

Ardbeg 1974/1991 (56.2%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #33.12, 75cl)

Ardbeg 1974/1991 (56.2%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #33.12, 75cl) Five stars Any gibberish would be supererogatory here (what?) Colour: pale gold. Nose: evident. It's evident whisky. Mind you, they built a brand around these casks. Bandages, camphor, seawater, smoked tea, kippers, grapefruits, new rubber boots, bicycle inner tube, cider apples, oysters, tarry ropes, horse dung, new leather, humidor, shoe polish, seaweed... Yes we're done. Masterly. With water (coz we must): these old Arbegs often used to exhale hints of white vinegar after water was added, and this baby makes no exception. Maybe even gym socks. It's the dark side of old Ardbeg, if you will. After twenty minutes, it's rather Parmesan cheese - yes it remains a tad unlikely. Mouth (neat): simply unquestionable. Very oily mouth feel. Stuns you, everything's absolutely perfect. Shhh... With water: oh noh! It became flat and dry, it's like crunching the Daily Mail or similar bog-paper (please excuse me). So, careful with water! Finish: long and great when neat, acrid and drying when reduced. Comments: fabulous Ardbeg, it's just that it hates water. A coastal malt, they said! SGP:458 - 95 points (when neat, otherwise it's rather around 70 - serious!)

... Session ends here...

(With heartfelt thanks to Bert and Geert)

More tasting notes Check the index of all Ardbeg I've tasted so far



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Joachim Kühn (solo). Track: Cry Me A River. Please buy his music...

September 26, 2013


Two old young Glen Mhor for the record

I’ll say it again, it’s becoming more and more difficult to try whisky from long closed distilleries, let alone those same whiskies at young age and at high strength, so I believe any opportunity should not be missed, even less so with the sometimes very whacky Glen Mhor from Inverness. Because 'this style no exist anymore.'

Glen Mhor 8 yo (57%, Gordon & MacPhail, 75cl, +/-1980)

Glen Mhor 8 yo (57%, Gordon & MacPhail, 75cl, +/-1980) Four stars This 'white label red stripe' version is/was much less common than the brown/beige label. Probably early 1970s distillation. Colour: gold amber. Nose: how big, how powerful and how aggressive! It’ll just burn your nostrils if you get your nose too close, which is a little strange since 57% is not that high (don’t tell my mum I said that). What I get beyond all this alcohol is rather a both gamy and chocolaty kind of oloroso sherry. Let’s try to tame it with water… With water: like smelling stale rainwater from a rusty oil barrel, and the old car of a forty-a-day man. We’re talking cigarettes. Other than that, it’s very fine, very different, and I especially love the old-style earthiness. I would never stop improving in fact, but it needs a lot of time. Is that old-school enough? Mouth (neat): starts immensely ashy, very astringent, very aggressive again, but this time there’s also a sweetness that makes it more bearable. Triple-sec? Now, it remains harsh and difficult without water. With water: we won! The chocolate remains dry and drying but other than that, there’s some old rum, orange marmalade, kumquats, honeydew, pipe tobacco… All good, all much smoother. And it’s pretty clean for Glen Mhor. Finish: long, with more spices as often. Liquorice, cloves, cumin and tar. Comments: what a ride, exactly what’s to be expected from a young Glen Mhor in my opinion. Put this in a supermarket, everyone street drinker will ask for a refund. But die-hard malt geeks will enjoy it… Or at least pretend they do, ermnlm...… SGP:363 - 85 points.

Glen Mhor 10 yo 1978/1989 (65.3%, Gordon & MacPhail for Intertrade, 300 bottles)

Glen Mhor 10 yo 1978/1989 (65.3%, Gordon & MacPhail for Intertrade, 300 bottles) Two stars Amazing strength but this was most probably filled at a higher strength than today’s usual 63 or 63.5% vol. Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s not the first time this happens, this stronger baby is actually smoother and rounder than its ‘lighter’ counterpart. Or maybe it’s the more bourbony profile? The higher creaminess? Let’s say it’s some kind of motor oil with a good dose of vanilla-ed sugar thrown in plus  quite a lot of almond oil. It’s actually becoming more and more ‘Glen Mhor’ after just one or two minutes, with more soot, oils, ink, new magazines, leather… With water: wham! Very much old-school, greasy, sooty, waxy, mineral, with only grapefruits at the fruit section. Never bad news… After ten minutes, big mint, eucalyptus and, sadly, plastic. New plastic pouch. Mouth (neat – I’m shaking!): haha, this is easy! No, w…a…i…t…. it’s hot and, above all, extremely Mhorish (not quite more-ish), bitter, very paraffiny… and very burning. Just one drop would kill you forever. Nope, not all whiskies kill forever. Quick, water: oh what a hard one! Bitter plastic, cardboard… It’s like drinking ink, I’d say. Finish: long but almost unbearable. Burnt beans? Comments: ups and downs all the time, it’s adventure. I think it’s flawed, technically, but on the other hand, it’s fun-fun-fun. Sort of… Seriously, it’s pretty difficult whisky. SGP:282 - 70 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Glen Mhor I've tasted so far



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Jack Wilson. Track: Stolen Moments. Please buy Jack Wilson's music...

September 25, 2013


Two Glen Keith 1992, maybe only one

Just like Longmorns, there are quite a few Glen Keith 1992 around. They're usually good, I must ay. Let's have three of them.

Glen Keith 20 yo 1992/2013 (51.8%, Pure Spirit, bourbon barrel)

Glen Keith 20 yo 1992/2013 (51.8%, Pure Spirit, bourbon barrel) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: smells 'modern', pleasantly so. It's very rounded, we're more or less on some excellent orange cake with a good layer of sweet vanilla, acacia honey and millionaire shortbread. Or is that a Mars bar? As long as you don't deep-fry them... ;-). Also tarte tatin, caramelised apples... With water: all kinds of apples in all their forms. Cider, cakes, pies, juices and, well, not quite calvados. Mouth (neat): sweet yet nervous, with more citrus and white pepper from the oak. It's a rather vigorous one but there's also this sweet, candied side. muscovado sugar and more pepper. With water: very nice spices, light caramel, white pepper and more apples. Maybe touches of tinned pineapples. Finish: pretty long, fruity, fresh, with the oak working as a condiment, in a way. Peppercorns in the aftertaste. Comments: all much to my liking, this one has some character and presence. The fruitiness and the spicy oak work in tandem. SGP:641 - 87 points.

Glen Keith 20 yo 1992/2013 (51.8%, Whisky-Fässle, bourbon barrel)

Glen Keith 20 yo 1992/2013 (51.8%, Whisky-Fässle, bourbon barrel) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: almost undistinguishable, but the strengths being the same, this could well be the same cask. With water: same. Mouth (neat): very sameish. With water: very very sameish. Finish: as I said... Comments: probably a shared cask. This is Europe, my friend! ;-) SGP:641 - 87 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Glen Keith I've tasted so far


Pete McPeat and Jack Washback



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Chihiro Yamanaka. Track: Living Time Event V. Please visit her website and buy her music...

September 24, 2013


Bang bang bang, three Lagavulin

The brand new official 37 years old hasn't reached WF's shores yet, so to pass the time (so to speak) let's have younger Lagavulins today, both independent and official.

Lagavulin 1995/2013 'Islay Jazz Festival' (51.9%, OB, sherry butts)

Lagavulin 1995/2013 'Islay Jazz Festival' (51.9%, OB, sherry butts) Five stars Last year's 1997 was wonderful (WF 91) but this one's a larger batch. And so jazz isn't dead yet, great news!... (of course it's not dead, and neither does it smell funny, dear Frank.) Colour: gold. No extreme first fill ala 21yo. Nose: the first impression is that of Lagavulin 16, only at cask strength. It's just the same kind of feeling, with some sweetness, natural latex, farmyard, tobacco, orange zests and dried kelp. Whoops, almost forgot peat smoke. It's rather more civilised than earlier official small ex-sherry batches, I'd say, with much less bacon or gunpowder. With water: I think I'm ,as I good as the people at Diageo as I think I managed to replicate the 16yo. Good water and a pipette, that's all it takes! Mouth (neat): purrrfekkkt. Chiselled Lagavulin (the kind that cuts through you like a surgical knife) with a layer of tobacco, Seville oranges and leather. Less extreme than earlier batches but maybe (even) better balanced. More drinkable for sure. With water: swims like Mark Spitz. Perfect balance, peat smoke, oranges, cardamom, kippers and just one or two raisins. Tiny ones. Finish: very long and it never becomes acrid or tannic. Funny 'ideas' of litchis in he aftertaste. Comments: big yet lighter than others. Easier for sure and wonderful for sure. When Lagavulin's that easy, it becomes lethal. So a bottle to lock away. SGP:458 - 92 points.

Jack's Pirate Whisky 10 yo (57.8%, Jack Wieber, cask #4627, 299 bottles, 2008)

Jack's Pirate Whisky 10 yo (57.8%, Jack Wiebers, cask #4627, 299 bottles, 2008) Five stars This should be Lagavulin. Colour: white wine. Nose: very classy, much earthier and rootier than the official. A walk on the beach, gentian, seaweed, damp earth and cut grass, a little cane sugar, sea breeze, oysters, agaves, broken branches, bonfire, a little antiseptic... Aw, what a classy naked spirit! With water: same direction. Lovable nakedness. Mouth (neat): extremely chiselled, sharp, almost violent, developing on a combination of limejuice and lapsang-souchong. Huge peat, ashes, smoke, kippers. Massive whisky. With water: brine and ashes. Let's keep this short, because it's no complex whisky, and yet it's perfect. Finish: long, extremely concise and very right. Citrusy aftertaste. Comments: it's very different from the new OB, but we're within the same family. A blade, 100% spirit-driven. And what a spirit. SGP:448 - 92 points.

Lagavulin 15 yo (58.2%, The Syndicate, +/-1995?)

Lagavulin 15 yo (58.2%, The Syndicate, +/-1995?) Five stars Not too sure when that baby was bottled but according to some knowledgeable sources, it's a 1979. I think Muray McDavid were behind this series. Colour: white wine. Nose: this is something else and frankly, it smells older than 15. It's more evolved, with more herbs, for example. There's some very obvious caraway right at first nosing, then rubbed orange and grapefruit zests, some menthol and aniseed, maybe fennel, then more sooty/smoky smells. Engine oil, old garage... There's also quite a lot of cloves and juniper berries. Wonderfully different. With water: became narrower, but beautifully so. Beaches and farmyards - like. Mouth (neat): this must be older than 15! Fabulously phenolic, did they add Motul or Veedol? Forgotten Lapsang Souchong (I mean forgotten in the teapot), grapefruit juice and then a growing coastal saltiness. Kippers for sure, maybe also salted anchovies. Implacable. With water: amazing old-style Islay. A grand cru of whisky, enough said. Finish: long, with some marzipan and barley sugar. A feeling of fresh putty or plasticine, always great news in this context. Comments: a stunning bottle but please note that not all the Lagas by the Syndicate are of similar greatness. SGP:447 - 94 points.

(with big thanks to Angus and Tomislav)

More tasting notes Check the index of all Lagavulin I've tasted so far



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: the wonderful classic trumpet of Conte Candoli. Track: I Can't Get Started. Please visit his website and buy the music...

September 23, 2013


Tasting two very fine
middle-aged Karuizawa

There's a new Karuizawa/Asama, let's try it. As for the sparring partner, we'll select another Karuizawa - of course - of similar age - of course - that was bottled a few years ago.

Karuizawa 1999-2000/2013 'Asama' (50.5%, OB, batch #2)

Karuizawa 1999-2000/2013 'Asama' (50.5%, OB, batch #2) Four stars and a half The robe is much less red than the picture would suggest ;-). It's the same whisky as in the earlier bottlings of Asama except that this one spent 12 more months of marrying. Aren't longer marriages more fulfilling? Colour: amber with bronze hues. Nose: vigorous and slightly eau-de-vie-ish (zwetschke) at first nosing, but touches of espresso, chocolate and various sweet spices are soon to come to the rescue with a perfect roundness. An artisan chocolate bar? After a few minutes, more liquorice, Habanos-loaded humidor and maybe a little dried porcinis. I like this even better than earlier batches, it's rather more complex. With water: goes more toward walnuts, flor, vin jaune, with also a little curry, but it never loses the sweetness. Sultanas. Gets slightly flinty as well. Mouth (neat): no less vigorous than on the nose but this time it's more Seville oranges and marmalade... Then some Demerara sugar, liquorice again, quite some bitter herbs (and artichokes or rather artichoke liqueur?), cardamom... It's big, pleasantly pungent whisky when neat. With water: same combo, only easier and smoother. Very nice herbal tea mix with some aniseed involved, maybe thyme, as well as strong honey (chestnut). Finish: long, kind of sweet and spicy. Speculoos and gingerbread. A rather nutty aftertaste. Comments: I think the longer marriage really made it more complex. SGP:662 - 88 points.

Karuizawa 14 yo 1995/2009 (59.4%, OB for Dr. Jekyll's pub, Norway, Noh series, wine cask, cask #5039, 222 bottles)

Karuizawa 14 yo 1995/2009 (59.4%, OB for Dr. Jekyll's pub, Norway, Noh series, wine cask, cask #5039, 222 bottles) Three stars and a half A wine cask? What's that? How do you define 'a wine cask'? I think I've read it's ex-Japanese red wine but not too sure. Colour: deep orangey amber. Nose: big, different and a little unlikely, in the sense that it's clearly winey. That means that contrarily to most other whiskies including ex-sherry, the red fruits (raw or as jams) are much more at the front. Raspberries first, as often, then rather blackberries and even strawberries. After that, more stems and leaves, herbal teas (hawthorn) and some kind of very fruity pipe tobacco. I remember a friend was smoking cherry-flavoured tobacco a long time ago, that used to smell like this. With water: more of all that. The tobacco got louder and then hints of roses and litchis appeared. Mouth (neat): thick, huge, with this feeling of kriek beer, heavy liquorice, blood oranges and then many spices, cloves, star anise, cardamom... I believe it's the heaviest mulled wine I've ever tasted. With water: doesn't swim too well on the palate, something slightly rubbery and too flinty came out. Finish: long, with raspberry afterglows. Comments: some parts are great, some are a little less great in my opinion. Wine casks are always challenging their whiskies. SGP:661 - 84 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Japanese I've tasted so far



Block Today: BLUES. Performer: Bernie Marsden. Track: Purple Haze. Please visit Bernie Marsden's website and buy his music...

September 20, 2013


Chocolaty birthday drams
and petits verres of 1960

It's my birthday today. No, you don't need to care and there isn't much to celebrate anyway, but birthdays are always good occasions to crack open one or three bottles from our vintages, aren't they. And since we're trying to find worthy malternatives these days, and since I'm French, I also thought we could rather have a little Armagnac 1960 instead of whisky. No wait, why not also have one malt from 1960 as the apéritif? Now, it's also to be noted that you can easily find some 50+ yo Armagnac for between 150 and 250 Euros these days - and in Armagnac, you don't even have to listen to very loud and pushy 'masters of anything'. Right, salesmen. Armagnac remains very 'roots' but that may change, as demand rises, rises, rises... But first, the apéro - or should we call this the warm-up lap?

Strathisla 1960/2000 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail)

Strathisla 1960/2000 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail) Four stars We've already tried quite a bunch of Strathisla 1960 by G&M, some were stellar (the latest one for The Whisky Fair, for example), whilst one or two others were tired and flat (unlike this humble 53yo taster, haha). Colour: deep amber, almost mahogany. Nose: what I had hoped would happen does happen, this baby starts pretty Armagnacqy, with many raisins and prunes, but it also has quite some coffee and even whiffs of wood smoke (pinewood and oak). Tends to become drier and much more chocolaty over minutes, and never really becomes 'Christmascaky'. Excuse me. Very nice, very classic nose. Not tired at all but things may change on the palate, as always with old whiskies. After fifteen minutes, a little more sandalwood and maybe dried parsley and other dried herbs and herbal teas. Mouth: in the good versions the low strength is no problem and this is a pretty good one despite the slightly chalky and tea-ish start. It's not exactly tannic but the oak shows a bit. Nice oranges and cinnamon, raisins and mead. Tends to drop a bit, the middle may lack power. Finish: a bit short but clean. The oak never took over but there is an obvious feeling of bitter chocolate. Not 98% cocoa though. Comments: nose is almost perfect, arrival is very pleasant, middle and finish are a little weaker. That's the portrait of many old whiskies ;-). So, much to my liking but not stellar. How many times have I written that?  SGP:561 - 86 points.

Saint Christeau 1960 (40%, OB, Armagnac, Esquerre-Bounoure, +/-2010)

Saint Christeau 1960 (40%, OB, Armagnac, Esquerre-Bounoure, +/-2010) Four stars and a half This little house has been bought by Alsatian eau-de-vie makers G. Miclo just a few years ago. The house is located in Courrensan in the Gers since 1867 and I believe they make Armagnac de propriétaire, meaning that they grow their own vines. Colour: exactly the same as the Strathisla's. Nose: we're now in neighbouring territories, there are some obvious differences with the whisky but also many similarities. What's different is the absence of smoke and even oak, what's very similar is the load of raisins and prunes, as expected. It's also rather more jammy - which other old Strathislas can also be - with mirabelle jam and quite some honey, then we have wonderful notes of bergamots and kumquats. So, this is globally fruitier and more youthful in a way, and certainly less dry. A beautifully balanced nose. Mouth: beats the Scotch fair and square, thanks to a thicker body and more lively fruits again. Many raisins, a feeling of cassata ice cream with many candied fruits, various honeys, then spices such as cinnamon (but not too much, that would be a flaw) and cloves, then more liquorice. Never drops. There's just a wee (sorry, petite) tingliness from the oak but it's not SevenUp-ish at all. Phew! Finish: good length, with more coffee and chocolate. Comments: bargain. There may be better ones out there but this 1960 is very satisfying, it hasn't got any flaws and it isn't exactly grapey. Pssst, I think I've seen it online for around 160 Euros a bottle. In Scotland you wouldn't even get a silly metal-plated stag's head for that price these days. SGP:640 - 89 points.

Gélas 1960/2013 (40%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, sélection spéciale Au Millésime Strasbourg)

Gélas 1960/2013 (40%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, sélection spéciale Au Millésime Strasbourg) Four stars and a half Gélas is a pretty large and well-reputed Armagnac house in Vic-Fézensac in the Gers region. The famous d'Artagnan from the 3 musketeers was an ancestor. All for one and one for all, let's try this fifty-three years old baby! Colour: mahogany. Nose: we're even closer to some great old malt. There is some burnt wood, some chocolate, some coffee and many jams (mirabelles and zwetschke again), but it tends to become more complex, overtaking both the Strathisla and the Saint Christeau. Very lovely blackberry jam, polished wood, church incense (no I'm no churchy old man) and flowers, first the usual roses and peonies, then also honeysuckle. And for good measure, a little tar and liquorice. This nose would beat many an old ridiculously and presumptuously priced Scotch whisky. Mouth: starts more grapey and slightly gritty this time, the Saint Christeau was smoother and kind of 'younger' as well. Dark chocolate, cherries, Corinth raisins and a feeling of 'strong black tea', probably form the oak. Strawberry jam, more cherries again (guignolet, cherry liqueur) and more chocolate again as well. Crunching raw coffee beans. I like this a lot, it's just that when the oak's pretty loud I think you're better off if you keep a higher strength when bottling. Water can make the tannins stand out a little too much. The good news is that there's also quite some liquorice that does kind of soften the tannicity - or does it simply mask it? Finish: medium length, on bitter chocolate, cinnamon and blackberry jam. Comments: really excellent. Whisky drinkers are now used to higher strengths and anything bottled at 40% feels weak and is frowned upon. What's sure is that this old Armagnac would be an utter killer at 45 or 46% vol. Great nose, but I think the Saint Christeau was even nicer on the palate. SGP:570 - 88 points.



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: WF favourite Don Pullen with Don Moye. Track: Milano Strut. Please buy these great people's music...

September 19, 2013


High strength Caol Ila as they come
(a session of all dangers)

I could even say 'as we get it'. It seems that there's less new indie Caol Ila around these days, but we've got many on our shelves yet to taste. Let's have a few almost 'at random', both new ones and older bottlings. What's more, we won't try to compare them too much, we'll have one after the other so that we can go on if we feel like it..

Port Askaig 19 yo (50.4%, Specialty Drinks, 2013)

Port Askaig 19 yo (50.4%, Specialty Drinks, 2013) Four stars and a half I have no proof that this is Caol Ila. There. Colour: white wine. Nose: it's a crystal-clean one that starts quite medicinal. I know it's usually said that Laphroaig is THE medicinal malt, but I often find some Caol Ilas that are more medicinal and this is a good example. Antiseptic, mercurochrome and such. Very crisp, with peat smoke, seawater and lemon juice. Chiselled, as they say. With water: as usual, more hay, raw wool... Mouth (neat): it's rather bigger than others, with more fatty oils, but it remains very crisp and zesty. Lime, lemon, brine, lapsang souchong. Simple and perfect. With water: more rooty notes and more grapefruit. Remains ultra-crisp. Finish: long, maybe a notch sweeter, almost sugary now. Some newish oak involved? Comments: I think they got it right once again. It's very 'right' whisky, which is quite different, and probably better than very 'good'. Ah well, forget about that gibberish. SGP:547 - 88 points.

While we're at it, we could as well have the recent 30 yo in the same series...

Port Askaig 30 yo (51.1%, Specialty Drinks, 2013)

Port Askaig 30 yo (51.1%, Specialty Drinks, 2013) Five stars There used to be version that was bottled at a very Taliskery 45.8%, but this newer one is bottled at 51.1% as you may have noticed. Colour: straw. Nose: unstoppably appealing (wot wot wot?) with these notes of fresh putty and paint, almond oil and plasticine, followed by the expected brine, seawater, oysters and keepers. More complex, with more hydrocarbons - perhaps - and more fresh butter as well. Maybe it's a little more fragile in a way, but it's lovely. Mouth: no, it's pretty great. Starts slightly shy, on citrons and touches of paper, but it just never stops growing after that, with some liquorice, kippers again, lime, salty animals (our beloved whelks), apple peelings and a few drops of genuine cider (not the sweetish junk of course). Very briny after one minute, but moderately peaty. Finish: longer than expected, with more putty and bitter almonds again. Salted bitter almonds. Salmiak in the aftertaste. Comments: another one that's very right. It's not quite a different world after the lovely 19, though. SGP:467 - 90 points.

Caol Ila 30 yo 1982/2013 (52%, Coopers Choice for The Limburg Whisky Fair, hogshead, cask #4721, 275 bottles)

Caol Ila 30 yo 1982/2013 (52%, Coopers Choice for The Limburg Whisky Fair, hogshead, cask #4721, 275 bottles) Five starsColour: pale gold. Nose: wow! Right the point where the great fatty/phenolic rums (Caroni, Hampden, some Demeraras) rejoin malty territories. Serious, you could think this is one of them at very first nosing. Right, once the tangerines, the kippers and the straight peat smoke join in the dancing you cannot be mistaken anymore but still... Very great nose. With water: once again, wool and hay. Maybe one or two distinguished wet dogs (hello dogs). Mouth (neat): we're extremely close to the Port Askaig, this one's just a little crisper and even more 'chiselled'. A little more medicinal too. Excellent. No, wait, it's very medicinal. With water: excellent, it's the phase when these peaters become rounder and more on complex phenolic notes, old garage, oils, petrol, greases... Finish: good length, with more salty liquorice coming out. Comments: the only problem with old Caol Ilas is that you can drink a lot of them, while other peaters from Islay will stuff you more. Just a personal observation... This one's really, really great. SGP:467 - 91 points.

Good, I think we've trapped ourselves, in no way we could go on with younger Caol Ilas after these two wonderful old ones. Let's rather try to find one or two older ones, or interesting ones... (rumaging rumaging...) How about this baby?...

Caol Ila 21 yo 1974/1996 (57.2%, Wilson & Morgan, cask #12601, 273 bottles)

Caol Ila 21 yo 1974/1996 (57.2%, Wilson & Morgan, cask #12601, 273 bottles) Three stars and a half Picture of older bottling bearing similar label. From the year when they restared the distillery after having expanded it. Colour: white wine. Nose: what a brute! This one is extremely spirity and aggressive, it's almost un-nosable. It only calms down a bit after a good five minutes, with what seems to be a lot of grapefruit and maybe seaweed. Thank God we've got a solution (so to speak, haha):  With water: nah, it remains a pretty narrow and aggressive spirit. It's very nice, but it's very narrow? Seaweed and smoke, that's pretty all. Mouth (neat): big, massive, immensely lemony, that's all I can tell, cough, cough... With water: good, no more, no less. Salted lemons and kippers, with some smoke. Maybe some mint too. Finish: rather long but without much changes. Comments: no old bottle effect here, this was youngish when it was bottled and it remained youngish and a little harsh and simple. Don't get me wrong, it's very good, but I liked the previous ones (even) better. SGP:367 - 84 points.

All right, one last Caol Ila. And as we just had a rather raw one, let's have another... Please fasten your seatbelts!

Caol Ila 12 yo (64.8%, James MacArthur, +/-1986)

Caol Ila 12 yo (64.8%, James MacArthur, +/-1986) Two stars and a half This must be very early post-1973 distillation. We've already had some of these legendary early young Caol Ilas at very high strengths (63% or even 63.5%) by James MacArthur, but almost 65%, never. This must have been filled at 70% vol. Wish me luck. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: an ashtray splashed with diesel oil. Very difficult, very dangerous. With water: even with a lot of water, it remains rough and raw. Brine, brine and brine plus the same notes of diesel oil. quite a lot of plasticine too. Mouth (neat): great, you just have to take only a quarter of a drop at a time. It's very lemony but high alcohol does 'promote' those flavours. With water: simple, clean. Grapefruits, lemons, ashes and almond oil. It's good but it's very young and pungent. Finish: long, a tad medicinal (mercurochrome) and always very briny. The aftertaste is pleasant, smoked and salted liquorice? Comments: it was a young beast and it remained a young beast. It's great spirit, but it's too rough and water just wouldn't help. Plus, some kind of flocculation happened when I added water, which scared me to death. Well, almost, but that was a very unusual kind of white flocculation. SGP:357 - 78 points.

Indeed, better stop now.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Caol Ila I've tasted so far



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: The Gil Evans Orchestra. Track: Jimi Hendrix' Crosstown Traffic (from The Gil Evans Orchestra Plays the Music of Jimi Hendrix, 1974). Please visit Gil Evans' website and buy the music...

September 18, 2013


Longmorn as they come. Quite

Today let's have a few Longmorn old and new, in no particular order, picking them more or less at random from WF's sample library, except that the apéritif will be the official 16 years old. Some orchard fruits are to be expected... Oh and we'll be a little quick with the youngish ones, especially the numerous 1992s, because in my experience they're all pretty similar.

Longmorn 16 yo (48%, OB, +/- 2013)

Longmorn 16 yo (48%, OB, +/- 2013) Three stars The last 16 I tried back in 2009 had impressed me (WF 88) while earlier batches were more in the middle of the road. Colour: pale gold. Nose: starts right on kirsch and plum eau-de-vie, with something slightly spirity but also nice whiffs of freshly cut apples and pears. Also some tree bark, broken branches, walnut skin and then more vanilla as well as touches of raisins. Classic, not too aromatic. Also hints of rubber rather less pleasant now. Mouth: some kind of malty fruitiness, with bitter elements thrown in. Chlorophyll, mustard, pepper on apple crumble and green tea. Same touches of rubber/leather as in the nose, not exceptionally pleasant here. And the kirsch is back too. Maraschino. Finish: of medium length, with quite some strong green tea. Drying aftertaste. Comments: this batch does not impress me too much, at least not as much as the ones from the very late 2000s. Less fruits, more bitter greenness. SGP:461 - 80 points.

Longmorn 1997/2012 (55.4%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask #163310)

Longmorn 1997/2012 (55.4%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask #163310) Four stars According to Whiskyfun's new Cray XK6 hybrid supercomputer, we already previewed this baby and liked it a lot. Colour: straw. Nose: straight on kirsch, almonds, marzipan and various other stone fruit spirits. You have to like that but I do. With water: some sweet beer comes out, maybe lambic style? Wash. Mouth (neat): clean, rich zesty fruits, between oranges and apples, plus sultanas, vanilla and honeys. That works very well I have to say, we're not far from the Nadurra's style or Glenmo Astar. Freshish wood? Yet the robe was very pale in colour. With water: perfect now. Impressive vanilla-ed fruitiness, full, round and yet lively. Nadurra style indeed. Finish: long, fruity, sweet. Comments: another dangerous one. Very dangerous. SGP:641 - 87 points.

Longmorn 20 yo 1992/2013 (55.5%, The Whisky Barrel, Burns Malt, sherry hogshead, cask #71773)

Longmorn 20 yo 1992/2013 (55.5%, The Whisky Barrel, Burns Malt, sherry hogshead, cask #71773) Three stars and a half Berry Bros and associated brands already had quite a few from this series of casks. Colour: gold. Nose: same profile as the official but with more raisins and other dried fruits, and almost no rubber this time. Apple pie, cherries, Seville oranges... All quite fine. With water: more toffee and fudge, maybe a little mint. Mouth (neat): a powerful combination of acidic fruits (kiwis, gooseberries, tangerines, lemons) with marzipan and, once again, a maraschino-like cherriness. A little wormwood and aniseed too. A little lemonady. With water: vivid lemonade and tonic water plus all the fruits, apples and cherries first. Finish: quite long, with even more tonic water. A wee sparkling effect. Comments: all good and quite fresh. SGP:551 - 84 points.

Longmorn 20 yo 1992/2013 (52.8%, Whisky Spirits, Whisky Seasons)

Longmorn 20 yo 1992/2013 (52.8%, Whisky Spirits, Whisky Seasons) Three stars and a half From the beautiful 'calendar' series, this one is July 2013. Colour: pale gold. Nose: there you go, we're extremely close to the Whisky Barrel. Frankly, it's the same whisky, more or less. rather more than less. With water: ditto. Mouth (neat): same, maybe a notch more candied but otherwise everything's there, the tonic water, the marzipan, the lemons, the cherries, the apples... With water: yes, same. Maybe a wee touch more farmyadry? Finish: yes. Comments: yup. Is consistency an asset to malt whisky? Discuss! SGP:551 - 84 points.

We've already had enough 1992s, haven't we. So...

Longmorn 20 yo 1990/2010 (50.5%, Adelphi, Haitian Earthquake Charity Bottling, cask #30029, 214 bottles)

Longmorn 20 yo 1990/2010 (50.5%, Adelphi, Haitian Earthquake Charity Bottling, cask #30029, 214 bottles) Four stars 10€ were donated by each buyer and 10€ were added by Adelphi. They raised 4,500€ in total! Colour: straw. Nose: immediately both more complex and cleaner, with no mash, no yeasty side and no rubber. It's a fruit salad, in fact, with apples and cherries fist, then oranges, pineapples, pears and ripe kiwis. Add to that one spoonful of honeydew and a little almond milk plus orange blossom water and you've got a great desert. All that's in there. I feel water isn't needed. Mouth: excellent. It's got this wee prickly side that the 1992 often have as well, but then all these oranges and various other fresh fruits really do the trick. Nice green pepper and cardamom as well. Finish: quite long, very fresh and just as dangerously drinkable as the 1997... Comments: and that means I'll give it just the same score. Now, true charity bottlings (not stinky media stunts) are all worth 100 emotional points, aren't they! SGP:651 - 87 points.

Let's go further down - this is becoming a true verticale, isn't it.

Longmorn 20 yo 1986/2007 (54.3%, The Whisky Experience, 260 bottles)

Longmorn 20 yo 1986/2007 (54.3%, The Whisky Experience, 260 bottles) Four stars I think this was a brand that The Whisky Exchange/Specialty Drinks. Colour: straw. Nose: very similar to the 1990, just a notch drier and less emphatically fruity, but as always, that may come from the higher strength. So, with water: even nicer, with some artisan cider and, well, apples and pears. Mouth (neat): everything fruity and even candied is there but there's also a little plastic and cardboard, which isn't very pleasant. Maybe water will make that disappear? With water: that worked, there's much less of that and much more fruit salad and fresh oranges. Finish: now totally clean and zesty. Pretty long. Comments: most certainly a very good one, although it's maybe not as immediately pleasing as the 1990. A little more complicated, perhaps? SGP:552 - 85 points.

And now a young old one, with much more sherry this time...

Longmorn 12 yo 1984/1996 (58.1%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, SherryWood)

Longmorn 12 yo 1984/1996 (58.1%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, SherryWood) Four stars and a half Sherry and Longmorn can be like Jagger and Richards (What?). Colour: amber. Nose: we're all on coffee-schnapps, or rather schnapps-coffee. And then we have the usual chocolate, Corinth raisins and prunes. And maybe strawberry jam. Big sherry, big stuff. With water: good flints and dark chocolate are joining the table. It's still a notch rough though, maybe it would need thirty extra-years in glass? Mouth (neat): whaah! High impact orangey sherry, with loads of Seville oranges. A very thick baby, this. With water: swims well but not fast. I mean, it became easier but didn't develop any further. Remains thick and roughish. Finish: long and jammy. Always Seville oranges and marmalade. Comments: don't get me wrong, it's superb whisky, it's just that it lacks a little polishing so that it could reach 90 in my book. And you have to like sherry monsters! SGP:741 - 88 points.

Longmorn 32 yo 1976/2008 (54.7%, V.C. Whisky Club, cask #5895, 125 bottles)

Longmorn 32 yo 1976/2008 (54.7%, V.C. Whisky Club, cask #5895, 125 bottles) Five stars A whisky club that selects a 1976 Longmorn can only be a great whisky club. Colour: gold. Nose: the complexity is arriving! This is becoming more tertiary than all the others, with these earthy touches that no young whisky can display. There's also some beeswax, honey and various herbal teas such as verbena and chamomile. Tobacco, rocks, oranges... With water: superb farmy notes, a wee gamy side (but this ain't sherry) and an even bigger minerality. Wet limestone. Mouth (neat): big! Oranges, marmalade, mint, cough lozenges, oils, zesty white wine, pepper... All great. Maybe even touches of peat, I know where that comes from. With water: more marmalade, limejuice, a wee inky side, almonds... Just great. Finish: long, zesty, with more mint or maybe eucalyptus drops. Comments: perfect Longmorn at a perfect age. What a vintage (almost) everywhere! SGP:662 - 91 points.

Hmm, we now have a benchmark, it'll be more difficult for the next ones but these kinds of challenges are even more motivating. To the taster! But we may have to use heavy artillery now. Such as this other 32yo...

Longmorn 32 yo 1969/2001 (56%, Coopers Choice, Sherry)

Longmorn 32 yo 1969/2001 (56%, Coopers Choice, Sherry) Five stars Tremble in fear, mere mortals! (that would be yours truly). Colour: deep amber/coffee. Nose: absolutely fabulous! It's not that I desperately need to further massage my adjectives, but this a totally perfect fruitcaky (?!) sherry monster. Everything is perfect, the coffee, the woods, the cigars, the chocolate, the flints, the spices and, yeah, the fruitcake. All that's maybe missing are more tertiary, gamy/meaty tones. With water: yeah, you bet! Its there, cloves, cigars, jamon iberico, soy sauce, spices... But the fruitcake keeps the upper hand! Mouth (neat): oh my oh my oh my. It's not whisky, it's concentrated whisky. Dazzling dried black fruits, liquorice, wood spices and chocolate. It's immense. It's not that that wasn't expected, but this is even bigger and better than I had thought. With water: please, the number of the anti-maltoporn brigade is (+44) 131 222 9200. No, no, please don't call that number, that's the Scotch Whisky Association! Finish: a bed of roses. Right, of fruitcakes. Comments: brilliant, like old sherried Longmorns could be. A style that any whisky lover should have in his cabinet if you ask me, because this style of sherry is almost gone forever. SGP:652 - 93 points.

All right, while I was game for many more, after that winner I think it's better to have only one last Longmorn today. We'll save the many other old glories for later. Why not for Christmas this year? So which last one should we have?... Maybe another 1969, but one's that's much lighter in colour for comparison? And since we already had a great Adelphi, why not another one?

Longmorn 30 yo 1969/1999 (56.7%, Adelphi, cask #4249)

Longmorn 30 yo 1969/1999 (56.7%, Adelphi, cask #4249) Four stars and a half One of the very early Adelphi bottlings (bottled when we still had good eyes ;-)). Colour: gold. Nose: have you ever opened a beehive? It smells just like this. Wax, pollen, honey, wood... But a beehive doesn't have any loud passion fruits and mangos, which this baby does have. A little unexpected I have to say, but wonderful. Very 'nervous' for a 1969 Longmorn, the zesty freshness is incredible. With water: more beeswax but also more almond oil, argan oil, sesame oil (is that enough oils for you, Serge?) and orange zests. Mouth (neat): massive grapefruits, kumquats and bergamots that play first fiddles, with passion fruits and grapefruits at the cellos and, well, nobody at the doublebass. There's also a fabulous rooty/earthy side, with rather loud notes of... gentian! Hurray! (I know, I know, you can buy a great bottle of gentian for 20€, but it just cannot bear the cachet of a 1969 Longmorn). With water: hold on, it does not swim well! Some cardboard, paraffin, plastic and soap come out, it's not massive but it's much noticeable. And yes I'm using my usual Vittel, never, ever tap water. But to hell with water! Finish: very long, utterly great when neat, a little soapy when reduced. Comments: I'm in a moral dilemma. This baby's well worth 92 or 93 in my book when naked (the whisky, haha), but only around 80 or less when diluted. I think we'll score this terrible swimmer...  SGP:662 - 88 points.

I agree we need a very last one. An older one, how about this little baby?...

Longmorn 44 yo 1966/2011 (43.1%, Gordon & MacPhail for Limburg, Book of Kells, refill sherry hogshead, cask #281)

Longmorn 44 yo 1966/2011 (43.1%, Gordon & MacPhail for Limburg, Book of Kells, refill sherry hogshead, cask #281) Four stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: this is something else, we're in old wine territories, meaning that everything became tertiary, complex and, I have to say, unusual. First, it's quite flowery, and I find notes of many roses and peonies. Maybe even lilac. Then, there's this kind of resinous side that sits right between putty or plastictine on one side and eucalyptus and mint on the other side. It's a pretty rare feeling. Then there's a little benzoin (perhaps), fur (grandma's mink) and, bigger than that, old books and magazines. Add to that the much more common walnuts and apple peelings and you've got a pretty good picture of this unusual nose. Hopefully! Mouth: yeah, this is very unusual. The wood has taken over a bit but it's not a drying oak, or too much tea or cardboard, we're rather having many oils and other compounds that hint at pinesap or even carbolineum. I remember that Cadenhead's had some ultra-old Irish from long gone distilleries that also had this kind of profile, only much bigger. Also lavender drops - nothing to do with FWP in case you're wondering - and then orange marmalade and honeydew. The honeydew is getting bigger and bigger (you may call that for or pine honey). Finish: of medium length, sappy, with this feeling of plasticine again. Comments: it'(s a tough one, because you could see several aspects as either flaws or assets, depending on your tastes. What's sure, in my humble opinion, is that the spirit has extracted many oils out of the wood over the years. And yet it's no dry whisky! SGP:372 - 88 points.

We'll do more Longmorn verticales in the near future!
(With thanks to Angus, Benjamin, Govert and Konstantin)

More tasting notes Check the index of all Longmorn I've tasted so far



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Abdullah Ibrahim. Track: Memories of you. Please buy all his music...

September 17, 2013


The new Glenfarclas 1953 Coronation
and a worthy apero

After the one for Wealth Solutions in Poland and the 'Auld Alliance' duo with a Hine cognac, yet another new 1953 has just been bottled, for Specialty Drinks Ltd this time (The Whisky Exchange). I could taste all remaining casks of 1953 two years ago and so could do a serious 'head-to-head'. I had my preferences but globally, they were all of very equivalent and very high quality. One had a wee notch more wood, the other one had a tiny-wee bit more fruits, but all those differences were rather infinitesimal. Anyway, I thought hard about a fitting sparring partner/apéro and instead of another super-old Glenfarclas, I decided to rather have a very unusual one that was probably distilled in the 1950s as well but was then bottled at a much younger age.

Glenfarclas 12 yo (45%, F.W. Hempel & Co., Germany, +/-1970?)

Glenfarclas 12 yo (45%, F.W. Hempel & Co., Germany, +/-1970?) Four stars and a half A very funny bottle for a German company that's into metals and that is also, according to the label, "tax supplier by appointment to the German Government". It's vey hard to put a date on such whiskies but since the bottle is 'dark brown glass' and since it's bearing a 'short screw cap and a bulky neck', it's likely from the late 1960s or early 1970s, so possibly mid to late 1950s distillation. Colour: full gold. Nose: great OBE in full swing, with some metal polish, herbal teas, kumquats, soot (plenty), chocolate and these notes of vegetables that can be so intriguing. Say French beans? It's becoming very earthy, smoky and kind of pleasantly dusty (or chalky) after one minute, but it lost a large portion of its kumquaty side. Becomes very dry after just five minutes, with more cocoa powder and soot, but that's not unpleasant at all. It's very complex globally. Mouth: a little strange because it's got two almost opposite sides. One is dry, smoky, chocolaty and slightly tea-ish, whereas the other side is all on dried and fresh fruits, juicy ripe sultanas, orange marmalade, maybe pink grapefruits... So it does the splits in a way, but that's really fun. And I also enjoy the growing coffee side. And the blackberry jam. It's actually much to my liking. Finish: long and very chocolaty. Eau-de-vie-filled chocolate. Comments: high quality tri-dimensional malt. Now, finding another bottle of this strange bay should just be impossible. It was also unexpectedly smoky and that wasn't the kind of flinty smoke that can be found in big sherried whiskies. SGP:562 - 88 points.

Glenfarclas 1953/2013 'The Coronation' (51.1%, Specialty Drinks, crystal decanter, 60 bottles)

Glenfarclas 1953/2013 'The Coronation' (51.1%, Specialty Drinks, crystal decanter, 60 bottles) Five stars This lovely baby was bottled to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in June 1953. These are not my old tasting notes, I'm re-tasting it from a new 'official' sample. Colour: full gold. Nose: just like its brothers it's impressively fresh and you can really feel that the oak worked as an asset, never as an invading problem. The main difference with the 'old young one', as often, is that there's more sap and waxes in this one, maybe more camphor and mint, more polished wood (obviously)... Other than that, we rather have some sherry, prunes, raisins, quite some wood and tobacco smoke and then a growing chocolaty side. In the background, touches of leather, sandalwood and old roses. Implacable. BTW these are also great in a large 'cognac' glass - actually we aren't far from some great old cognac at all. With water: even great old casks can have OBE. Or OCE? It's a little more metallic and the spices come out more, with cloves, star anise, cinnamon, then more pipe tobacco (the juicy black ones). Perfect. Mouth (neat): the oak bites a bit when it arrives, with all this bitter chocolate, but that's more than normal. The good news is that what comes along is quite brilliant, prunes, various raisins, blackberries (big time!), tangerines and mangos, a bit of flor perhaps, touches of bacon, tobacco... In truth everything's there and the way the fruits are counterbalancing the oak is quite spectacular. With water: do you really want to know? As expected, the oak got louder but there's also more mint, camphor, cough lozenges, tar and liquorice, so all more than fine. Finish: very long. Spicy orange marmalade and chocolate plus myriads of tinier flavours. Some kind of smoky liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: these 1953s were miraculous. If I'm not mistaken, there should be one cask left, unless there's been some cask sharing and there's more (which the various strengths do not suggest). Who's going to get it? SGP:572 - 93 points.

(with thanks to Carsten)

More tasting notes Check the index of all Glenfarclas I've tasted so far



Block Today: JAZZ to go with the old Glenfarclas. Performer: Duke Ellington in Paris in 1963. Track: Perdido. Please visit buy the Dukes' music...

September 16, 2013


Tasting three very expressive and impressive Glenglassaugh

So, after having quickly previewed it while my nose was only in average shape, it's time to properly assess the new official 30 yo by the new owners (the Benriach - Billy Walker gang). As usual, we'll add one or two worthy sparring partners, one older official and one independent. Remember, with wines or spirits, only comparison is reason.

Glenglassaugh 23 yo 1984/2007 (46%, Wilson & Morgan, butt, cask #187)

Glenglassaugh 23 yo 1984/2007 (46%, Wilson & Morgan, butt, cask #187) Four stars and a halfW&M also had another cask at the time, #190, and I found it excellent back in 2007 (WF 89). Colour: deep amber. Nose: bang, heavy, slightly foxy sherry! Sure there's the usual fruitcake (hello!) but I find some soy sauce, balsamic vinegar and touches of oxidised walnuts right at first sniffs. That's not unpleasant, quite the opposite. After that, we have more of the expected raisins and dried fruits (apricots, quince jelly) and some sweet white wine, such as late harvest gewurz. Mouth: it's very autumnal, I mean I find chestnuts, dried mushrooms, walnuts again, some heavy black tea Russian-style, something a little acrid and tannic from the wood (more strong black tea) and then a lot of cocoa powder and bitter chocolate with just a few orange zests. Chestnut honey, a lot of that. Finish: long, on more walnuts and some Italian espresso (which we would call ultra-ristretto, there must be a name for that). Maybe flints. Comments: I've just read my notes for cask #190 and both seem to have been very similar. SGP:662 - 89 points.

Glenglassaugh 30 yo (44.8%, OB, 2013)

Glenglassaugh 30 yo (44.8%, OB, 2013) Five stars The former decanter for the 30 was cubic, this one's pear shaped. Not too sure that means anything. Colour: amber. Nose: starts quieter than the 1984, with less sherry and rather more waxes and almonds. What I really enjoy is the earthy side that also comes with some tobacco (cigarettes - sorry no brand names), as well as some raisins. Well, a whole fresh-opened pack of juicy ripe sultanas! Also very nice touches of wood polish, cedar wood and maybe incense. Oh and a little herbal tea, rather around eglantine. Keeps unfolding for a long time, this one shouldn't be rushed. Mouth: excellent arrival on bitter oranges and spices (cinnamon) before it becomes quite lush and fruitier. Mangos and melons are quite obvious, sultanas too. What I like best is the balance between the fruits and the spices, it's both very fruity and very spicy, whilst I've often noticed that old malts that were becoming spicier were also losing a bit of their fruitiness. No such things here. Finish: long but with no further changes. More of the same. Just the aftertaste is maybe a notch too tannic. Comments: this baby really benefited from some breathing. It's (even) better than when I previewed it. Plain 90 material in my book. SGP:661 - 90 points.

Glenglassaugh 1972/2010 (59.3%, OB, Andrea Caminneci for Germany, refill hogshead, cask #2891, 303 bottles)

Glenglassaugh 1972/2010 (59.3%, OB, Andrea Caminneci for Germany, refill hogshead, cask #2891, 303 bottles) Five stars Warning, warning, warning, another 1972 selected by Herr Caminneci in 2012 was utterly stunning (WF 93). This one cannot be as great, that is impossible, isn't it? It's also funny that the oldest is both the lightest in colour and the strongest. Colour: gold. Nose: and yet another beehivy 1972. You know, Caperdonich, Clynelish... A lot of fresh honey, pollen, ripe plums, quince jam, maybe mango chutney... All this is pretty brilliant, extremely fresh and not too powerful at almost 60% vol. I cannot not think of some old Sauternes, maybe even one that starts with a Y. With water: full on ripe mirabelles and quince jelly. Quince jelly is my Proust's madeleine. Mouth (neat): a total fruitbomb. Watch the kids. Passion fruits, mangos, tangerines, bananas, pineapples, kiwis... Right, I won't list them all. What's even more striking is the way it becomes even more citrusy after a few seconds, with more and more lemons and grapefruits. And once again, you don't feel the 60% vol. too much. With water: pure fruit syrup. Finish: quite long, very fruity, on the same tones and notes. Mirabelles! Fruity olive and almond oils in the aftertaste, always a great development. Even sugar cane. Comments: hem! This is unquestionably great. Only fault, it's too drinkable. SGP:751 - 93 points.

(With thanks to Dennis and Tobias)

More tasting notes Check the index of all Glenglassaugh I've tasted so far


Pete McPeat and Jack Washback



Block Today: BLUES. Performer: Ana Popovic. Track: Navajo Moon. Please visit her website and buy her music...

September 15, 2013


Two Teaninich at very low strength

Saved by the bell? We’re expecting some wobbly/shaky aromas and flavours, aren’t we…

Teaninich 29 yo 1989/2013 (41.2%, Whisky-Doris, hogshead, cask #7665, 39 bottles)

Teaninich 29 yo 1989/2013 (41.2%, Whisky-Doris, hogshead, cask #7665, 39 bottles) Four stars A funny bottling of a leaking cask, that’s why there are only 39 bottles. No cask sharing this time! Colour: dark gold. Nose: this is very interesting. I do not know whether this comes from the leaking cask or not, but there’s a lot of varnishy notes, nail polish remover (that would be acetone) and then wet wood, oak, barrels, carpenter’s workshop and such. And yet, there’s a kind of balance that’s been found, maybe because of the very nice notes of juicy ripe apricots and papayas. Crème de menthe. Much intriguing, spectacular and pleasant. Again, vive la difference ! Mouth: the unlikeness of this baby is to be found on the palate again, but this time it’s rather in the form of a smashing combination of pineapple and coconut, so there’s this ‘pina colada effect’ that we sometimes also find in new modern whiskies. Sure the straight oaky/varnishy part remains in the background, but it’s all for fun and our pleasure. Finish: not too long but with notes of bubblegum and liquorice allsorts. Whisky for kids? Much more cinnamon in the aftertaste. Comments: probably an oddity but an absolute thrill to be able to taste the effects of a leaking asks. That makes the whisky unbalanced but also very different, and that’s very cool for a hardcore whisky geek such as… you ;-). SGP:551 - 85 points (okay, technically a little less).

Teaninich 1973/2013 (41.8%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon hogshead, cask #MoS 13011, 198 bottles)

Teaninich 1973/2013 (41.8%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon hogshead, cask #MoS 13011, 198 bottles) Four stars and a half This time the strength is low because… The whisky’s old! Colour: gold. Nose: this is obviously much smother, rounder, fruitier, easier, mellower (that’ll do, S.!) There’s some acacia honey, maybe drops of banana liqueur, plums, more honey, sultanas aplenty, quinces, sweet white wine (say Pinot Gris Vendanges Tardives?) All very easy, smooooth and enjoyable. A sin, it’s almost Chanel (where are the girls when you need them?) Mouth: yeah well, the oak’s a little loud again but it imparted some subtle vanilla tones, I mean various vanillas and soft spices, pralines, apricots and fresh coriander mix, orange salad with olive oil, honeydew, mead… It’s all a little fragile again, because of the low strength, but it’s appealing. Finish: quite long despite the low strength, with quite a lot of cinnamon, obviously (old malt, low strength), banana skin, oranges… Comments: miraculous at times, certainly fragile, and quite captivating. Not enough to be worth 90 in my book but we’re close. Time in your glass. SGP:451 - 88 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Teaninich I've tasted so far



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Pat Martino. Track: an amazing live rendition of Sunny. Please visit his website and buy the music...

September 2013 - part 1 <--- September 2013 - part 2 ---> October 2013 part 1



Best malts I had these weeks - 90+ points only

Ardbeg 'Uigeadail' (54.2%, OB, +/-2013)

Ardbeg 1974/1991 (56.2%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #33.12, 75cl)

Ardbeg 1979 (43%, Nisshoku Osaka, Japan, 490ml, +/-1995?)

Slim Cowell’s Personal Selection VII Islay 1980/1993 (60%, Slim Cowell)

Caol Ila 30 yo 1982/2013 (52%, Coopers Choice for The Limburg Whisky Fair, hogshead, cask #4721, 275 bottles)

Glenfarclas 1953/2013 'The Coronation' (51.1%, Specialty Drinks, crystal decanter, 60 bottles)

Glenglassaugh 30 yo (44.8%, OB, 2013)

Glenglassaugh 1972/2010 (59.3%, OB, Andrea Caminneci for Germany, refill hogshead, cask #2891, 303 bottles)

Jack's Pirate Whisky 10 yo (57.8%, Jack Wiebers, cask #4627, 299 bottles, 2008)

Lagavulin 1995/2013 'Islay Jazz Festival' (51.9%, OB, sherry butts)

Lagavulin 15 yo (58.2%, The Syndicate, +/-1995?)

Longmorn 32 yo 1969/2001 (56%, Coopers Choice, Sherry)

Longmorn 32 yo 1976/2008 (54.7%, V.C. Whisky Club, cask #5895, 125 bottles)

Port Askaig 30 yo (51.1%, Specialty Drinks, 2013)